Sunday, January 20, 2013


HAPPY NEW YEAR HAMMERHEADS!!! It's the black comic scribe locked and loaded with mad diatribe...but I thought to myself...let's begin the year off positive with some pop culture commentary on Quentin Tarrantino's latest cinematic revisionist history epic...the bolder than bold DJANGO UNCHAINED. I will let you know I am dedicated follower of QT...and have seen all of his flicks on opening day since Pulp Fiction. He is without a doubt one of the most interesting filmmakers in Hollywood. My present to myself this past Christmas was a nice warm seat, a bag of buttered popcorn, a tall drink and DJANGO UNCHAINED on the big screen. I had many expectations, especially since we all know Quentin has spent a great deal of his movie career hinting at how he would do a western...but I learned a long time ago not to try and guess what QT is going to do. The movie was awesome. Bombastic. Brutal and vile. The word nigger is dispatched from the mouths of almost every actor and actress in the movie like machine gun fire for the duration of the film...not to mention the other slurs. I have seen Spike Lee's reaction and his comments....and while I love and have a great deal of respect for Spike and his opinion...I am moved to say "SHUT THE FUCK UP" and watch the movie. Not just to Spike but to other self-righteous Tarrantino haters out there who all of a sudden get offended when they hear the word nigger. If you all care so much about the widespread, ra-ta-tat-tat use of the word nigger...where was this uproar when the BOONDOCKS was playing on constant loop on Cartoon Network? Once and for all...let's become comfortable with the fact that the word "Nigga" has become a celebrity, rock-star slur and it's not going anywhere. However that is a convo for another occasion. DJANGO is a blaxploitation slavery/western revenge epic that just about purees everything that Quentin Tarrantino loves into one potent elixir. BLACK ACTORS. R&B/Hip Hop Soundtrack. HANS LANDA! Jamie Foxx in Legend of Nigger Charley mode! Kerry Washington's fine ass! Leonardo "My pimp hand is strong" Dicaprio in some of the best acting I have ever seen him produce and a cameo by Don Johnson that will have you yearning to see him do more. The tour de force of this film and no doubt the pin in QT's cinematic grenade is Samuel L. Jackson. Thought he wasn't? Check the Tarrantino resume...Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, even Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds included the fine thespian sinew of Samuel L. Jackson. Can you  have toast without butter? Can you have the wings without a cold beer? You might choose to but you are missing the flavor and sometimes things are just meant to go together. Quentin Tarrantino and Samuel L. Jackson have established a cinematic camaraderie that is comparable to Deniro and Scorsese....Jackson is QT's point guard and yes...Sam drains the winning shot at the end of the game every time especially in this latest game...Django Unchained. Here's the breakdown; Jamie Foxx is a slave named Django who has been separated from his love, Broomhilde (the ever fetching, Kerry Washington)...Django is by chance emancipated by a wandering mercenary/dentist named Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz set on "KILL"). Waltz has the intent of making Django a deputy bounty hunter and through the course of their adventures together the two men form a friendship that leads to Dr. King offering to help Django locate and rescue his beautiful, Broomhilde. This is standard western fare but done so with classic QT swagger. The sucker punch most people don't see coming is the internal conflict between Django and Samuel L. Jackson's character, Stephen. I suspect that this character is what has Spike Lee so upset....and I dig it. Stephen is the head of all the slaves that work in the house of Calvin Candie (Leonardo Dicaprio, fiendish and miraculous)...or for lack of a better word, house nigger. Stephen is uproariously funny in terms of his world perspective where he has been taught to hang on every word of his white master and keep all the slaves on this plantation under his hypnotic sway...but his fear of Django (Django is a free brother who has his own horse, his own gun and gets to sleep in the big house no less!!!) is that here is another black man who has more than I can that be? And how in the world can I conspire to fuck it up for him because far be it from me to watch him ascend to a higher level than I've managed to reach. I'm not really saying much about Jamie Foxx because I wasn't real entertained by Django himself. I thought to myself several times while watching the movie..."Oh hell no...they would have shot his ass for that." Or how the hell does a slave automatically know how to shoot a gun or ride a horse? Django, himself, kind of came across to me as Super-Slave...complete with fairly good diction. But Stephen is a character for the ages and one that begs closer inspection...especially to the black community. Nowadays this character would be referred to as a HATER- HATA-or HAYTA (however pop-culture and it's Amerizombies choose to frame it). Stephen is also a now famous celluloid example of PLANTATION SYNDROME. Like his animated twin brother, Uncle Ruckus from the BOONDOCKS, Stephen is filled with a self-loathing that is so great he has psychologically withdrawn from the fact that he is actually black and has become an extension of his white master's riding crop. Stephen is the representation of the hate that black folks were bred to have for each other through the institution of slavery and the politics of the plantation. I find it ironic and disheartening that some of the best movies about this taboo topic (The Color Purple or an Imitation of Life) have been orchestrated by white writers and film-makers who seem to have a better grip on the material than we (black writers...yes, I am black.) do. But I still recognize genius when I see it and I still have to admit when I've seen a good movie that made me think, made me wonder and transports me with great characters, great action and a wee bit of social commentary. Go see Django and see a damn good Western with more black stars than you can shake a stick at or; go see Django and think about the underlying subtext of Jamie Foxx's character as opposed to Samuel L. Jackson's and what implications it might have on you and I today. Either will be entertained and thinking at the same time.


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